Wednesday, August 4, 2010

"Salt" Review

It's a movie we didn't really cover much on AtD, and what a shame it is. The movie is Salt, and stars the always lovely Angelina Jolie in a not-so-lovely role. A bit of history for you: the movie was not intended for Jolie. Fact is, it was never intended for a woman, period. The movie was written with a male lead, (rumor was Tom Cruise was set to star). Producers talked to Jolie, fell in love with the idea of converting the lead to a female and here we are today reviewing the movie. Let's go.

What I liked about the movie:
Angelina Jolie
This may come as an obvious positive in my review, but let me tell you why it's not so obvious. There aren't very many movies with female leads. There are even less action movies with female leads. So Jolie had to make it count, and boy does she make it count. Without giving anything way, we spend the entire movie trying to figure out, is Salt who she says she is? Or is she a spy, the way she's accused in the trailer?

Where does Jolie succeed the most? When she's acting alone. Anyone will tell you this is extremely difficult. To carry a scene without dialogue, alone, is a difficult feat. Similar to Tom Hanks in Cast Away, Jolie must command the audience's attention without much to work with. She pulls it off. Her expressions, her thought process, everything came through in the performance.

The Action
It's hard to fool fans these days. I've been watching movies on a daily basis for 25 years, I'm bound to see repeat stunts in action films. But Salt has stuff we've never seen before, at least not like this. The stunts are practical, which means they were actually performed, not added by a computer later. There is one particular scene where Salt has to jump from car to car on the freeway. The scenario itself may not be new to us, but the execution is. The cameraman actually takes the leap WITH Salt during one of the jumps. Awesome! The rest of the action is great hand-to-hand combat reminiscent of the Bourne trilogy. Good stuff.

The Story/Writing
This was a pleasant surprise. Usually this genre just pumps out the same ol' story lines time and time again. Salt does a good job of keeping the spy storyline fresh and different from movies in the past. The surprise twist at the end got me, and I've seen literally hundreds of action movies; I didn't see that one coming.

What I didn't like about the movie:
This is actually been a problem in several movies I've seen lately. Sub-plots are a tricky thing to deal with. They can't take over the entire movie, but have to be interesting enough to matter. I don't feel as though the sub-plot worked in the movie. It deals with the Salt character and her husband; how they met, how they fell in love, etc. This is all done through flashbacks. Once we reach the end of the film, we quickly learn none of the sub-plot matter. Don't worry, no spoiler was just given to you.

I hate to put this in the review, but I had to. I know it's an action movie and "tough" cops are important and all, but damn you, Chiwetel Ejiofor, if you weren't trying too hard. He should have taken note from his co-star, the AWESOME Liev Schreiber. Schreiber had plenty of opportunities to over-act as Salt's best friend in the movie, but he doesn't! Sorry, I had to say something because I like Ejiofor in his other work.

Believe me, there wasn't much else I didn't like about the film. It was a solid summer action flick that satisfied the senses. My wife isn't much of an action buff, or a Jolie fan, and left smiling from ear to ear after the movie. This WILL be a franchise and I love where it's headed. The story is set up for a nice arc and I can't wait to see it play out. Salt was a great surprise and we here at AtD owe it an apology for not covering it more closely.

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